ZENIT: Do you believe that Catholic schools do a good job of fostering a Catholic mind in young Catholics?
Father Schall: Briefly, no.
No one could think that the curriculum and spirit of Catholic schools today are based in the tradition of specifically Catholic intelligence. That requires discipline, study, and virtue.
In the modern world, we find no group more deprived of the glories of their own mind than young Catholics. This is why those small enclaves that do address themselves to it are in many ways remarkable.
Catholic institutions of higher learning, as they are called, simply gave up what was unique about themselves and the reasons for having Catholic universities in the first place. This lost source was the active vigor of the Catholic mind read not as an historical phenomenon or as a social activism, but as a search for and testimony of the truth, that towards which all mind is directed.
ZENIT: What modern persons, in your opinion, best embody ‘a mind that is Catholic?' Why?
Father Schall: In most of my books, beginning with "Another Sort of Learning," I have provided lists of books or reminders of them -- books that I think tell the truth.
I always list Chesterton and E. F. Schumacher. I think the present pope, as well as the previous one, were marvels of the Catholic mind, a mind that comes to grips with all things, yet with the light of grace and revelation.
The philosophy department at the Catholic University of America, to which I dedicated my book "The Mind That Is Catholic," is a perennial source of wisdom and rigorous intelligence. There is no place quite like it. I am a great admirer of the work of Monsignor Sokolowski, whose latest book, "The Phenomenology of the Human Person," is itself the Catholic mind at work; it is a mind that knows of reason and its limits as well as of its reaches.
Why do these and many other thinkers "embody a mind that is Catholic?" I think it is because they take everything into account.
What is peculiar to Catholicism, I have always thought, is its refusal to leave anything out. In my short book, "The Regensburg Lecture," I was constantly astonished at the enormous range of the mind of the present Holy Father. There is simply no mind in any university or public office that can match his. He is a humble man, in fact.
It is embarrassing to the world, and often to Catholic "intellectuals," to find that its most intelligent mind is on the Chair of Peter. I have always considered this papal intellectual profundity to be God's little joke to the modern mind.
The modern mind has built up for itself theories and ideologies whereby it prevents itself from seeing the truth that a man like Benedict XVI spells out for it in lucid and rigorously argued terms – terms fully aware and familiar with all of modern philosophy itself.
But Benedict XVI is a messenger of the Logos.
Read the entire interview.
Related Ignatius Insight Interviews:
• Putting Things In Order: Father James V. Schall, S.J., on Eighty Years of Living, Thinking, and Believing
• On Learning and Education: An Interview with Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | Part 1 of 3
• On Writing and Reading: Interview with Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | Part 2 of 3
• Chesterton, Sports, and Politics: Interview with Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | Part 3 of 3